My classmate waved “Hi!” as I entered my class and got myself settled. He turned around after a while and said “I notice you are in your Indian regalia. Are you celebrating anything?”. The first thought that crossed my mind was “regalia??”. I was wearing a silk kurthi and a bindi on my forehead. This is my regular work wear most days. With or without the bindi. I was about to say “Nothing!” then realized it was Deepavali a couple of days back and I did get this kurthi specifically for the festival. May be I was celebrating. 🙂
I then launched into a spiel on the various stories behind Deepavali and how it signifies triumph of good over evil and in other ways the start of something new. Something good. Not sure how I went from there to a dissertation on what I thought was “my culture”. By the time I was done, he was nodding at appropriate places and then said “Thanks!” and went back to his book.
Then my mind did what it does best. Replay the conversation. I was mortified at what I had done. I have no clue how he perceived it but I felt I had a condescending tone when I was talking about the richness of our tradition.
I thought I was not biased and appreciated the good in each of our lives. The eagerness with which I poured out information about Deepavali and how I likened it with Christmas suddenly seemed like a bad idea.
Has it ever happened to you? When you realize hidden prejudices right when you are talking and feel yourself turn a deep red in shame?